The holidays can be extremely stressful. Taking a break from our regular lives to try to reconnect and celebrate with our families, whom we all love very much, can be daunting during the holidays.
Making the Best of Thanksgiving Family Time
Most of us have experienced holidays that include family fights, hurt feelings, and distasteful comments or judgments during our Thanksgiving feast that can leave a bitter taste after dinner.
The anxiety carries over from year to year. It can build up to the point where we dread the traditional Thanksgiving and don’t even realize how we subconsciously sabotage the day before it arrives.
So here are ten good ideas for making this holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, one of the best ever.
First, get to wherever you’re going early. Don’t be the straggler. Don’t be late because of the dread. Whoever is hosting the dinner will be so grateful that you came early; it takes a tiny part of the stress away from the host, knowing that you couldn’t wait to arrive.
Most people would not admit it, but we love the people who come to our parties early because we feel they care and are really making an effort to celebrate with us.
Offer to Help
Thanksgiving dinner is extraordinarily difficult to make. Most people get up early in the morning just to prepare the turkey and get it in the oven. They work from when they get up till the last person leaves.
Put out the offer to help. Let whoever is hosting know you are available to help make a side dish, clean up a little bit, or do whatever you can to help the host get a break. You can already feel the stress melting away.
Call ahead and ask if any last-minute items are needed. The call is a godsend for the host. It’s so easy to forget something, and they often don’t have the time to run out and get it. Something so simple that pays such big dividends in the thoughtfulness department.
Dress to Impress
Nothing makes the host of Thanksgiving feel more important or respected than when family members show up dressed to the nines. Feel free to bring a pair of sweats for later in the evening when you’re busting at the gut from all the food you consumed, but arrive with style and class as a sign of respect and love for your family hosting the event.
Leave the Cynicism at Home
Don’t use Thanksgiving to air all your dirty laundry or complain about everything everyone has done to you in the past year. Let it go! Enjoy your meal. Tell everyone you love them and leave with a smile on your face.
Don’t Throw Gas on the Fire
It’s not your job to referee every argument or disagreement that may arise. If someone starts an argument, don’t be the mediator. Excuse yourself from the conversation and walk away. If you show by example that petty arguing is not something you appreciate, they will get the hint.
Let the Politicians Throw Punches
Politics is the destroyer of family gatherings, but there are sure-fire tactics to stop a problem before it turns into fireworks. Avoid, Deflect, and Agree! Nothing stops a political conversation faster than excusing yourself from the conversation, but sometimes you can’t get away, so the next best thing is to deflect the conversation in another direction.
“You have a great point, Dad, and for some reason, that made me think about how wonderful it was when we took that family vacation camping, remember?” If that doesn’t work, just smile and agree with each side until they get tired of venting. Who cares what they think?
Take Care of Grandma
Pay some real attention to the oldest members of your family. If you are fortunate enough to have some family in the twilight of their lives, embrace them and engage in a long conversation. There is no more incredible feeling in this world than telling your aging aunts, uncles, and grandparents how much they love them.
Ask how they are doing. Even better, ask them for advice about a problem or situation. They will absolutely be thrilled that someone still considers them relevant and respects the wisdom they have gained throughout their lives. Be grateful and thankful because, at some point, your family will set up the empty chair in remembrance, and you’ll never get another chance.
Don’t just sit and watch as others clean the dishes and put things away. Be part of the family and offer to take out garbage, prepare leftovers for guests to take home, and, most importantly, help so everyone can sit down and relax together.
When the party‘s over, thank everyone for a wonderful time, tell them how much you love them and leave. People who stay hours after the dinner has ended don’t seem to realize how exhausted their hosts are. Don’t be those people.
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